London, New York: Faber & Faber Ltd. and The Viking Press, 1939. 1939.
First Edition. James Joyce. FINNEGANS WAKE. Signed Limited Edition. London; Faber & Faber; New York, 1939. 4to., 260 x 171 mm [10 1/4 x 6 3/4"]. 4 p.l., [first blank], 628 pp. Original gilt titled brick red buckram, edges untrimmed. In the original [mildly soiled] yellow cloth slipcase which is in solid very good or better condition. Curiously with a possible original clear plastic dustwrapper not mentioned in the bibliography but for all intents and purposes, this wrapper has always been on the book. An extremely attractive example, spotless text block, neatly signed by Joyce on the limitation's page, number 216 of 425 copies only. - Slocum and Cahoon A49. Having exhausted all the possibilities of English in "Ulysses," he had only one recourse for his next project, which was to create an entirely new language as a pastiche of all the existing ones; the result is "Finnegans Wake." The language in "Finnegans Wake" is a continuum of puns, portmanteaus, disfigured words, anagrams, and rare scraps of straightforward prose. What Joyce does is exploit the way words look and sound in order to associate them with remote, unrelated ideas. For example, his phrase "Olives, beets, kimmells, dollies" may sound familiar to those who happen to know that the first four letters of the Hebrew alphabet are aleph, bet, gimel, daled. "Psing a psalm of psexpeans, apocryphul of rhyme" recalls a nursery rhyme that may reside quietly in your most dormant memory cells, while "Where it is nobler in the main to supper than the boys and errors of outrager's virtue" sounds like a drunk auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Imaginary adjectives that pertain to letters of the English alphabet are employed to describe Dublin as a city "with a deltic origin and a nuinous end." "Finnegans Wake" is the ultimate in esoterica, and what you get out of it depends largely on your store of knowledge, so that upon completion, with a mutual wink at Joyce, you congratulate yourself for being so clever. In 1994, in The Western Canon, Harold Bloom wrote of Finnegans Wake: "[if] aesthetic merit were ever again to center the canon [it] would be as close as our chaos could come to the heights of Shakespeare and Dante,"
Item #33515 Price: US$19,500.00